- All UK supermarkets
Label GM-fed animal products
Dear Tesco, Sainsbury's, Aldi, Lidl, Morrisons, the Co-Op, Marks and Spencer, Waitrose and all other UK supermarkets,
We are concerned that you are no longer committed to ensuring that the meat and dairy products you sell have come from animals fed on non-GMO feed. We urge you to reconsider selling these products, but in the meantime we request that you label GM-fed animal produce as such. This goes for meat, dairy, fish and eggs. As supermarket customers we believe that we should have the choice about what we buy.
We also wish to call your attention to some important points in the hope and expectation that it will lead you to reconsider your policies on this critical and increasingly high-profile consumer issue.
GM material has been detected in meat and dairy products:
Several scientific studies have shown that when livestock is given GM feed, GM material makes its way into the meat and dairy products produced from the animals (1-4).
As a result of these findings, in 2012 the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA), having previously denied that GM material could make its way into the produce we consume, was forced to concede: “It is… possible that DNA fragments derived from GM plant materials may occasionally be detected in animal tissues, in the same way that DNA fragments derived from non-GM plant materials can be detected in these same tissues.”(5)
GM feed has been found to be toxic to animals
Some studies have revealed toxic effects in animals fed a GM diet and people may, through lack of informed choice, find themselves eating the products of animals in less than optimum health (6). This could have implications for the health of the livestock animals in your supply chain as well as that of the human consumers of their products.
Consumers do not want GMOs in their food
A Consumer Attitude Survey commissioned by Friends of the Earth and GM Freeze and carried out by GfK NOP in September 2010 concludes that of those surveyed:
- 72% would pay extra for non-GMO food
- 89% want meat from animals fed on GM feed to be labelled
- 66% would prefer to buy meat from animals fed a non-GMO diet (7)
Non-GM feed is available
Following close consultation with Brazilian suppliers, German supermarkets have forced the German Poultry Association (ZDG) to return to using GMO-Free feed. The largest German poultry producer, Wiesenhof, announced in early December 2014 that it would meet the German supermarkets’ demands for GMO-Free Poultry products (8). Several German supermarkets including REWE, EDEKA, ALDI and LIDL stated that consumer demand and the fact that there is enough Brazilian GMO-free feed in the system to supply Europe’s needs led to their decision.
The rationale behind the decision of UK supermarkets including Tesco, Sainsburys, Waitrose, Lidl, Aldi and Morrisons to allow GM feed into its animal supply chain has been shown by the German supermarkets to be no longer relevant due to the following facts:
There is enough Brazilian GMO-free feed to meet demand, and this supply is increasing (9). In addition, soya production in China and India is 100% non-GM (10).
The current rationale for selling the products of GM-fed animals appears increasingly unconvincing to consumers. We therefore urge all UK supermarkets to reverse their decision to remove the non-GM requirement for animal feed in its supply chain and ensure that no animals in its supply chain are given feed containing GMOs.
(1) Mazza R et al, Assessing the transfer of genetically modified DNA from feed to animal tissues, Transgenic Res, 2005; 14:775-84. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11248-005-0009-5
(2) Sharma R et al, Detection of transgenic and endogenous plant DNA in digesta and tissues of sheep and pigs fed Roundup Ready canola meal, J Agric Food Chem, 2006; 54:1699-1709. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16506822
(3) Chainark P et al, Availability of genetically modified feed ingredient: investigations of ingested foreign DNA in rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss, Fish Sci, 2008; 74:380-90. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1444-2906.2008.01535.x/abstract
(4) Ran T et al, Detection of transgenic DNA in tilapias (Oreochromis niloticus, GIFT strain) fed genetically modified soybeans (Roundup Ready). Aquac Res, 2009; 40:1350-57. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2109.2009.02187.x/abstract
(5) Food Standards Agency (UK). GM material in animal feed, 2013. Available at: http://www.food.gov.uk/policy-advice/gm/gmanimal#.UXw5SoJAtY4
(6) Tudisco R et al, Fate of transgenic DNA and evaluation of metabolic effects in goats fed genetically modified soybean and in their offsprings, Animal, 2010; 4:1662-71. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22445119
(7) See: http://www.gmfreeze.org/news-releases/34/
(8) See: http://sustainablepulse.com/2014/12/07/german-poultry-industry-giant-returns-gmo-free-production/
(9) See: http://www.gmeducation.org/latest-news/p217690-boost-for-non-gm-soya-supply-but-will-supermarkets-act-on-livestock-products.html; Also: http://www.gmwatch.org/news/archive/2013/14747-enough-non-gm-soy-to-fulfil-europe-s-animal-feed-needs
(10) See GM Watch, Ibid